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Your Business

News/Business. A focus on issues facing small business in the United States.

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Us 4, Colleen 4, Austin 4, Seth 4, Paul Ryan 3, J.j. Ramberg 2, Brazil 2, Texas 2, Beaver 1, Michael Goldberg 1, Facebook 1, You 1, Raccoon 1, Tlc 1, Facebook Data 1, Sparks 1, Carney 1, Unilyzer 1, Untwitter 1, Aaron Flynn 1,
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  MSNBC    Your Business    News/Business. A focus on issues  
   facing small business in the United States.  

    October 28, 2012
    4:30 - 5:00am PDT  

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and it got presidential hopeful paul ryan in shape, the creator of the p90x workout on exercising your entrepreneurial muscle. that's coming up next.
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hi there, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg. welcome to "your business." the show dedicated to giving you tips and advice to help your small business grow. halloween is coming, which made us think about the question, are you doing anything, even inadvertently, to scare off your customers? we want to show you a few things you could be doing better. so i ask you, what does a carnival freak show performer have in common with a modern sales professional? maybe more than you think. who better than a seasoned
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carney to show us how to seal the deal? when the moon comes up and the fog rolls in and the crowd arrives, the freak show begins. [ laughter ] >> oh, yeah, good times. >> the entertainment that i do is something unlike what you would normally see in an everyday situation. i do a little bit of fire eating, fire breathing. i hammer a nail into the center of my face, drill myself in the face with a power drill. >> seth of boston, massachusetts, is an old school carnival performer with an old school carnival knack for separating people from their money. >> at the carnival, we had a little running joke that it cost $2 to get in and $7 more to get out because the $2 admission to get in covered our expenses to be on the lot, but the inside
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money from the pitches is what paid everybody's salaries for the week to be there. >> halloween is a busy season for seth. by night, he's outside performing as an evil clown, roping in the crowds at the haunted mansion. by day, he's a medieval torturer inside king richard's renaissance fair. >> welcome to the torture show. i look extremely intimidating in this outfit, but it works to my advantage when i'm trying to sell because i can make fun of myself in this outfit. they love me. they really love me. i'll stand at my bone shop cart, and i'll tell people, oh, especially reserved customer, oh, you don't have to be afraid of me. i'm really just a big fat teddy bear. >> teddy bear? bone shop? that's right. when he's not on stage can shoing audiences with fiery
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torches, seth spends most of his day in front of his cart selling colorful curiosities. >> what sparks your fancy here? is >> there's a lot of good stuff. >> very good mix of different dead things. it makes great christmas tree ornaments. put a little string in the back of the skull here. there is an art form to pitching. you need to be able to read people. you're not just saying, hey, give me a couple bucks. you have to say, hey, i'm going to show you something really cool, and at the end, you're going to feel like you want to give me a couple bucks, and that's okay because it's worth a couple bucks. >> if you expect a carnival trained pitchman like seth to take an aggressive sales approach, then you'll be surprised by his strategy. >> i was taught how to pitch by classic carnival pitchmen, and the way that we pitch and the way that i was taught to pitch is a soft sell. you can just be the quintessential, stereotypical car salesman that's trying to push someone into a sale.
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people need to be comfortable with what you're selling. they need to be comfortable with you first as a person. >> for seth, the soft sell starts with a tough guy costume and a large dose of self depositi self-deprecating humor. >> if you want to see a fat guy eat fire, breathe fire, and then stick hooks in his eye sockets, this will be the show for you. what do you say? our first show is 11:30. >> we watched him successfully working the crowd to come see his 11:30 show. >> you'll have an 11:30 date today, and it will be done. >> yeah, i have a date at 11:30 with two beautiful woman. you ladies have a wonderful day. first, they're looking at my costume. while they're doing that, they're listening to what i'm saying. now i've got them really hooked. >> for seth, sales is all about getting people hooked, and he's very good at doing that. >> yes, when people approach the
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bone shop cart, i'll gauge what people are interested in at the cart, and then i'll kind of try to gauge how their reaction is to different items. >> back at his bone shop, he says the next step towards making a sale is recognizing that different personalities require different approaches. >> how a person dresses says a lot about them. so if someone's going to wear a very loud clothing to a renaissance fair, they're probably a very open type of person, very talkative type of person. >> i am totally going to molest you into buying something. >> all right, molest away. >> i'll be right there to say, hey, how are you doing? let's talk some bones. but if they are a little reserved. they might be wearing like a lighter toned clothes, very neutral colors, nothing flashy, nothing gaudy, nothing to make them stand out. i might approach that a little differently. >> we also have the economical one piece skulls.
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just kind of walk up very casually. is there anything i can help you with? do you see anything that you like? they might be a little soft-spoken at first. they might say, well, i was kind of wondering about this. oh, well this? i'll take it right off the shelf. >> what are these? >> we have beaver, coyote, raccoon. any feel for you? anything? i'll play with it. we even have minks. the minks are cute because you can make necklaces out of them. and i'll put it right in their hands and say, oh, this, you can touch it. it's okay. hold it. and just stick it right in their hands and say, check it out. it's okay. it's dead. it's not going to hurt you. and what they are picking up on on a subconscious level is they appreciate that. that i'm taking time to speak directly with them. >> finally, seth says, the conclusion comes when the customer's face and body language tell you that they're ready to buy. >> they will constantly not
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looking back at an item while you're talking about it. that's telling me that they're very interested in this item, and if the price just doesn't seem quite right to them and they're getting ready to walk away, i'll say, you know what, tell you what, just because i know you really want that, i'll make you a deal, just for you. when in reality, it's the same deal i would make for anybody. now they feel like they're getting that extra special deal. >> for a carnival pitchman like seth, the line between performance and sales gets blurred. >> it's really a mental mind trip for the senses of i'm laughing, i'm shocked, i'm laughing, i'm shocked, and your brain just goes through a tornado of emotions. >> his technique may have been unusual, but his sales approach works, no bones about it. let's fire up this week's board of director michael goldberg is
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a managing partner at bridge investment fund, and colleen debase is special projects director at entrepreneur.com. lots of puns in that too. i apologize. thanks so much for joining us, you guys. one thing that i thought was so funny in there is he said i gauge them by their clothing, in this particular case, but there were differences, right? different degrees to how much you dressed up, and he noticed that and sells to differently. >> i think it's classic. i think of my own portfolio companies, and if we only had someone like him out in front, sometimes our sales folks, when you're doing projections before the customers in front of you, you think you can sell anything, and you know what the customer needs. but it's very different when you're actually engaging with a customer, and making the sale is so tough for small businesses. in that instance, he's reading his customer, and he's going in for the sale. >> there's nothing passive about what he's doing. do you have to be that active in order to make that sale? it's a lot of work. >> yeah. when i was watching that, i was
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thinking, this might be kind of a scary segment for a lot of people, especially aspiring entrepreneurs because a lot of people who are drawn to start a business, they want to do it because they're really passionate about something. they don't have that sales background, and salesmanship can really scare people off. he's obviously not scared about this. what i would say is for anyone who is sort of scared off, kind of do what he's doing, which is to be really excited and enthusiastic. i mean, that just comes shining through when you watch this guy. i think, if you're an entrepreneur and you've created a company where you're really passionate. we always say, don't start a company unless you're passionate. if you're really passionate about your product or service, it makes the job of selling that much easier. it's contagious. you get people excited too. >> one thing that i thought was interesting, and he had a different reason for doing it is getting him to hold. i was thinking of this concept of escalation of commitment. get someone to do a little
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something and then get him to do the next little something, and then suddenly they do the big thing that you want. getting them to hold it may, in turn, make them more apt to buy it later on. >> not every small business has a product that so easily held in the hand. but i think the concept applies to anyone. let's say you're a software company or service company, you may be able to do a pilot. there's ways to get your product a try and buy. i think for really early stage companies that are trying to get the revenue, it's important to do something where they can touch it. it's not always going to be in the physical, but it could be a piece of software, another service, but i think the concept is right. >> thanks, you guys. facebook can certainly be a powerful way to improve your online presence and grow your business, but what is actually bringing in sales and what's not? here now are five tools to help you analyze your business' facebook data. one, page lever. the site provides detailed fan
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profiling of your page by categories like age and gender. you can try it free for 14 days before choosing a plan that fits your business needs. two, simply measured. this tool provides excel based reports in web view so that entire reports can be shared with the team. three, edge rank checker. you can get overall industry reports, not just reports pertaining to your business. there's a free plan available, but additional features are only accessible with the paid account. four, buddy media. see how well your brand measures up against others in the same industry using the sites 0 to 100 scoring system. and number five, unilyzer. with it, you can track single or multiple fan pages and offers side by side comparisons. who would have thought, in the middle of an election, the fitness regimen of a campaign hopeful would be getting so much attention. p90x is the workout of choice
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from vice presidential candidate paul ryan. it's part of the beach body family, which includes some of the most popular in home weight loss solutions on the market today. we sat down with beach body ceo to get everything from telling it like it is to the importance of being self-aware, in this learning from the pros. ♪ no one can stop us now >> for anybody who works here, it's just fun to see when chili from tlc is doing brazil butt lift, and she tweets about it or paul ryan talks about his p90x. so many politicians, celebrities, actors talk about doing this, but the thing we're very careful about this is to not make this the star show. the stars of this business are the customers. they're real people who don't have the financial incentive to look great in front of the camera.
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be the first customer is, i think, one of the most important things for somebody to really give themselves distinction in the marketplace. it's very easy to see a need out there and think, oh, i can solve that need. unless you viscerally feel the problem, you're not going to solve that need in a way that is going to be really competition proof. we never sort of open the doors and said, hey, come on in and pitch us your product. instead, we looked at, again, using ourselves as the first customers. what would we like? is we just develop products that are a way to gratify our own desire to live a healthier, more fit life, in a way that can also fit into regular life. as a company grows, you can't be the ceo of the business and do everything the way you do when
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you were just four people. so we've had a few ideas that were really good ideas that were really going to meet a certain demand, but then as they get delegated, the product doesn't end up being what you originally set out to create. the delegation cannot be weak. it's got to be really clear, really strong, and then there has to be some follow through. one day john came into my office, and he said, i was just at a hotel, and they were offering p90x classes in the gym, and i said, well, that's funny. we don't let people do p90x classes. people want to do p90x, turbo fire, insanity, brazil butt lift, they want to do these things at their gyms. our job is not to tell people they have to do it at home. our job is to give people great programming they can do anywhere. we want beach body to be synonymous with results.
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that's all we care about. in 2012 in the spring, we launched certifications so that a personal trainer out there or group exercise instructor could have a brand attached to the work of training people. to be self aware. so just like the player who asked to be taken off the field if he's not running at his fastest so that he can get a play of rest, that's what's important for an entrepreneur to do. you can't be a great ceo if you're pushed to your limit and you're being short with people and you're snapping at people and you're not making good decisions. you've got to check out. do you want to be the richest guy in the cemetery, or do you want to be a person who had a truly healthy, fulfilling life. that's what we try to help people and inspire them to do. when we come back, we will answer your small business questions, including what nonprofits can learn from for profits? and with small business saturday
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coming up, a look at how local businesses in austin, texas, are working together with local growers to get customers to shop small. on every one of our cards there's a date. a reminder... that before this date, we have to exceed expectations. we have to find new ways to help make life easier, more convenient and more rewarding. it's the reason why we don't have costumers. we have members. american express. welcome in.
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here's someone from cooking.com. whenever someone would turn in their project, she would say, are you sure this is done? if it is, turn it into me. it set a tone. it said to people, i don't accept any slackers here. and also people loved working with her because she set the bar high and helped people reach it. so "it's your business" tip number 69, set expectations high from the start. small business saturday is coming up on november 24th. as many of you know, it's a day dedicated to getting consumers to forego the big box stores and shop small. nowhere is the buy local movement greater than the progressive city of austin. as we first told you last year, it's there, that local farmers and suppliers are working with distributors to give residents
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the chance to stock up with items from their own proverbial backyard. >> here, piggy, wiggy, wiggy. >> it doesn't get more local than this. green gate farm, located on the outskirts of austin, texas, is run by aaron flynn and skip. they raise rare breed hogs in a wide range of organically grown vegetables. >> in farming, there's heavy up front costs -- a barn, a tractor, fencing -- it takes a long time before you're going to see a profit. >> green gate is a very small, very local business. it provides food for about 100 families a year and at the same time provides income to a fair number of other local businesses and suppliers. >> we're growing rare breed guinea hogs. they need organic feed. that supports the feed mill. we need fencing. that supports the supply stores. then there's a butcher. i need to hire who's going to start making fine sausages, who will sell it to a restaurant.
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>> more and more, local business owners are discovering that spending their money within the community brings a boost to the local economy. >> so the buy local movement is, when you buy l community. it's better for the local community to shop with small, independent venn tors. >> it's mason arnold. they regularly buy produce from green gate farms. they distribute this locally grown produce in the austin area. as a distributor, they offer familiar and exotic new produce to customers. >> it challenges me to make something that i never would buy in the store. >> in this way, the deliveries are introducing new customers to new products from local suppliers.
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robby is a local angel investor. he put some of his money behind them and a few other slow money businesses. >> you put all the businesses togts. it's not just investing in the farm, it's the infrastructure of food, making sure it stays in your community, you know, we provide jobs. we provide healthy jobs. it's not just how much okra are you going to get this week. >> it's time to answer some of "your business" questions. michael and colleen are with us. richard writes, i have created a series of educational dvds. i would like to start a business to sell them to schools to use as part of their lesson plans and to retail outlet box sets. how do i determine which i would need to produce additional episodes. dvds was the first thing that caught me there, right? >> that's true.
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old school. old school. i think the reality is investors are never going to -- there's going to be something in between of what they think the valuation is. accelerators are setting valuations saying we are going to take 10% of your company. regardless of selling educational dvds. it's setting the right level and floor. >> what about the idea of convertible debt? it sounds like it's a friends and family. the idea of don't set the valuation at this first round. say this is debt. when we get the next round and more sophisticated investors, we convert it. do you see that happening? >> i see it happening. sometimes it's in a local community. we have an organization called jump start that supports entrepreneurs. they are deploying their
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companies on the same method. it's convertible debt. when the next set comes in, it converts to equity. it avoids the conversation. it's a method a number of investors are setting. >> i think this person is ahead of themselves in talking evaluation. they don't have a product, yet. there's a huge start up movement we have been hearing a lot about. there's a bill, a minimal version of whatever this is that they want to sell. they need to have something to impress an investor with. they need to, to build something and see if people will buy it and you learn a lot from that, just having that minimum version of a product. >> let's move on to the next one. i am in the process of obtaining a 501 c 3. would you give the same? >> i would, in some respects. >> it's a yes and no question.
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yes, the basic principles of marketing are the same whether you are for profit or not for profit. you need to boost your image and talk about how valuable you are to whoever it is, whether it's customers or donors. i think marketing, when you are a nonprofit, it is trickier because people are going to expect you to stand-up, be well intentioned and be noble. i think you really have to -- with your marketing you can't be overly aggressive. humor can kind of offend people. you have to be careful, i thif. >> one of the things you have with almost build in, if you have a non-profit is you have a mission and this cause. it's a little bit easier to connection on an emotional level than with a product or service. you should play that up. >> i agree. i think one point colleen made is you may be marketing to
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potential customers of your product or service and the donor piece. many non-profits, they have a donor aspect and selling their services. there's different messages for both. the donor side, absolutely, you are hitting them on the emotional piece and the mission piece. on the service side, for profit companies selling similar services. itis honing the message to the donor and the customer audience. your elevator pitch needs to be different for every audience. now a question about going big. >> as a small business owner who owns a real estate agency in atlanta, what is the best way to expand nationally? >> the first question would be to think about why do you want to expand nationally? >> i see portfolio companies, i invest in companies that are commercializing in the u.s.
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we take a regional approach to begin with and get momentuoment. i almost think of it as a continued regional expansion. >> i'll add to it, we write about franchising all the time and cover franchises. i think that is also a route this person can go. for any business owner with a successful business. the beauty of franchising is you pass a lot of the costs of opening new locations on to your franchises. you have to spend a lot of time, energy and money coming up with training programs and manuals and franchising. >> in essence, you, as the business owner, go into a different business. >> you are selling your company to prospective franchises. >> an interesting idea. if any of you out there have a question for our experts, all you have to do is go to the
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website, our address is openforum.com/yourbusiness. once you get there, hit the ask the show link. again, it's openforum.com/yourbusiness. if you would rather, send us an e-mail. colleen and michael both had helpful advice on how to improve your business. now, let's get great ideas from small business owners like you. >> i believe the best advice you can give someone is hire up. they should always hire somebody who is at least as good as they are or better at what they want them to do. because by doing so, they will never make you look bad and you will have the very best talent to do what you need to do. >> prioritize the number of contacts you make in your business to make sure your network continues to expand. it's the only way to ensure you
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people will want to hire you and remember who you are. >> people are traditionally terrified at economic downturns. they are not good. there are opportunities all the time in economic downturns. one of the things i have learned is a recession is a horrible thing to waste. i would never wish a recession on a country but there are huge opportunities there. >> do you wish you had a streamlined way to pay your vendors? check out our website of the week. invoicecentral.com is a secure service to receive and pay invoices. save time by scheduling payments in advance. set reminders so you never miss a payment. over 70 are in the system. more are signing up each month. to learn more about today's show, go to our website,
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openforum.com/yourbusiness. you'll find all of today's segments and content to help your business grow. follow us untwitter@msnbc your biz. become a fan on facebook. we love getting your feedback. next week, we prepare to cast our votes in the 2012 presidential election. we devote our program to the issues small business owners are most concerned about from taxation to health care to regulations we talk to entrepreneurs to find out who they think will keep businesses healthy and prosperous. until then, i'm j.j. ramberg. we make your business our business. we make a simple thing. a thing that helps you buy other things.